Fried Pickles, Tru Pickles and On a Stick Cookbook

September 18, 2011 at 7:54 am | Posted in Appetizers | 35 Comments
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What’s your favorite thing to eat on a stick?

I think mine has always been corn dogs, but after reading through the newest addition to my cookbook collection, corn dog status has officially become threatened. Let’s take a small peek into Matt Armendariz’s first cookbook On a Stick.  I don’t think I need to tell anyone that Matt is a rock star blogger, a professional food photographer and now a published cookbook author.

Matt’s photo from On a Stick cookbook. (I was given permission from the publisher to print this photo.)

My photo and the recipe I made from On a Stick cookbook.

Note to self:  find a blue weathered piece of wood.

I’m killing three pigs with one bird in this post. (Yes, I’ve been playing way too many games of Angry Birds on my I-Phone).

  1. Fried pickles has been on my list of things to make for a long time.
  2. A couple of months ago I uncharacteristically wildly waved my hand to receive a free copy of Matt Armendariz, or Matt Bites, new cookbook. As a “condition” of receiving the cookbook they asked me to talk about it on my blog.  I am gladly obliging.
  3. This gives me the opportunity to talk about a great local product; Tru Kosher Dill Pickles. And they’re jarred right here in my backyard in Littleton, CO.

Fried Pickles With Ranch Dressing:  I must say, I was taken with this tasty dish. This is the first time I’ve had them and I loved the warm, crunchy, flavor packed appetizer. Truly a treat for the palate. Matt’s recipe in the book called for pairing sweet gherkins with cocktail onions and dill pickle chips. The trio is then skewered on a stick for great little presentation. For the dipping sauce, I used a packet of Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing. It’s been years since I’ve bought it and I had forgotten how good it is.

Fried Pickles With Ranch Dressing, On a Stick Cookbook

  • 8 wooden cocktail picks
  • 1 qt. vegetable oil
  • 1/3 C. all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 T. buttermilk
  • 1 T. dill, minced
  • 1-1/2 C. seasoned bread crumbs
  • 8 gherkins
  • 8 cocktail onions
  • 8 dill pickle chips (I used sliced Tru Kosher Dill Pickles)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 C. store-bought ranch dressing

Preheat oil in a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat.

Mix flour and cayenne pepper in a shallow dish. In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, buttermilk, and dill. Place bread crumbs in a second shallow bowl.

Thread 1 gherkin, 1 cocktail onion, and 1 pickle chip on each cocktail pick. Once oil reached 350 degrees F., toss skewers in flour mixture, shaking off excess; dip in egg and then dredge in bread crumbs until fully coated.

Drop skewers gently into oil and fry 4 – 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Serve with ranch dressing.

On a Stick cookbook.  I’m glad I wildly waved that hand to receive a copy of this book. Chock full of fun recipes and great photos, it’s a welcome addition to my collection. With a line of foods that you’d expect to serve on a stick, like corn dogs and satays, he also throws us some curves with fun ideas for deep-fried mac and cheese, pizza skewers and potato chips on a stick. And are you ready for this one…Spaghetti and Meatballs on a stick. Also offered is an extensive dessert section with cinnamon rolls on a stick and deep-fried candy bars. FUN stuff folks. And of course, each recipe partners with a beautiful photo to entice you into hunger.

I’ve already got several recipes bookmarked and look forward to making many of these fun dishes. Thanks for a great cookbook Matt.

Tru Pickles.  As I mentioned above, these pickles are bottled not literally in my backyard, but in Littleton, CO. That means I’ve got a “neighbor” turning out some delicious pickles. They say “You’ve never tasted a dill pickle like this”. They’re very good and packed to the gill with crazy good flavor and yes, I’ve never tasted a pickle like this. Grape leaves are packaged in each jar for crispness and a unique flavor experience. I love that they’re a local product, I love how crunchy they are, and they are the most flavorful pickle I’ve ever eaten. They are sold nationally, so take a look at their web-site, Tru Pickles to find out where you can pick up a jar.

So with all that said, whether it be a pickle or spaghetti, get out your skewers and eat something On A Stick.

Fried Pickles…They’re What’s for an Appetizer.

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Chevre Stuffed Mushrooms Balsamico

February 20, 2011 at 1:55 pm | Posted in Appetizers, Side Dishes | 42 Comments
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Stuffed Mushrooms. Always a wonderful treat and with so many recipe variations, any of these bite size offerings are delicious. We happen to think they make a wonderful side dish for steak and that’s exactly what I served for Sunday dinner. 

I’ve talked ad nauseum about our wonderful local market who spoils us with fine offerings of seafood, the best aged beef in town, deli meats and cheeses, and gourmet take home dinners, my beloved Tony’s Market. Tony’s also spoils us with weekly emails offering a fabulous selection of mouth-watering recipes. Last week this stuffed mushroom recipe arrived and it was quickly added to my menu. It’s wonderful and actually the only stuffed mushroom recipe that I’ve permanently added to my recipe database. 

I served these with Beef Tournedos With Mushroom Wine Sauce and twice baked potatoes. I must say this was a fabulous dinner. The tenderloin was cooked so perfectly, and topped with out of this world red wine reduction sauce, we’ll probably brag about the meal for years. Just one little blogging problem…except for the preparation of the mushrooms, no photos. Not even of the cooked mushrooms. With a meal that special, sometimes you just feel like digging in. 

Let’s at least take a look at the stuffed mushrooms.

As Chef Mick instructed, I simply removed the stems, chopped and sautéed them in olive oil with green onions and then filled the mixture back into the mushrooms. I used crimini instead of white mushrooms because that’s what I had on hand.

I picked up this adorable little tube of very soft goat cheese that I spotted in Tony’s cheese section.

Placed a dollop of the cheese on top of sautéed stems and onions. 

Then topped with a panko mixture. Last week on Food Network, I watched an Ina show where they ground panko bread crumbs before adding to meatloaf. I decided to copy this to make the crumb topping more manageable on the mushrooms, so spooned panko bread crumbs into my little food grinder, added some grated parmesan cheese and Italian seasoning and pulsed a few times to obtain desired smooth consistency. 

These were extremely flavorful. The sautéed stems and onions made for a wonderful base and topped with the salty cheese and Italian toppings the package provided a creamy, savory flavor with a perfect crunchy topping.  And with a drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette, these mushrooms are a real treat. Even though I didn’t follow the recipe exactly as written, thanks to Chef Mick for this wonderful and easy recipe. You’ll find his original recipe below.

Chevre Stuffed Mushrooms Balsamico

6-8 large white mushrooms (I used crimini)
1-2 tsp minced shallot (optional) (I used finely chopped green onion)
pinch of fine sea salt
1-2 tsp olive oil and/or butter
Tony’s Balsamic Vinaigrette, as needed
3 TBS Chèvre, plain or flavored (prefer Haystack herb or pepper) (I used goat cheese pictured above)
Tony’s Italian or Parma Panko breadcrumbs, or your favorite (I used plain panko, chopped in a grinder and pulsed with Italian seasoning and Parmesan)
Parmigiano Reggiano, grated (optional)

For service: mixed spring greens – also great with Tony’s Marinara or Vodka Sauce

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Wipe mushrooms clean with a wet towel, remove steps and chop. Combine stems with shallots and a pinch of salt, and then sauté with a scant drizzle of olive oil (or butter) until very soft.

Dip or brush mushroom caps with balsamic vinaigrette. Divide sautéed mushrooms between mushroom caps – do not overfill!

Stuff /top each mushroom with chèvre cheese (the amount you use really depends on the size of the mushrooms). Combine 2 TBS breadcrumbs with 1 TBS finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (if using) and sprinkle over each mushroom. Place on a sheet pan or jelly roll pan and drizzle or mist lightly with olive oil.

Roast on top rack of a preheated 425-degree oven for 5-8 minutes or until sizzling and cheese starts to melt. Broil if additional browning is desired. Serve over greens tossed with Balsamic dressing or with warm sauce. Serves 2

– Chef Mick Rosacci, www.tonysmarket.com   www.TonyRosacciCatering.com

Chevre Stuffed Mushrooms Balsamico…It’s What’s for a Side Dish with Steak.

Larry’s Home-made Smoked Salmon Spread

February 10, 2011 at 7:53 am | Posted in Appetizers | 50 Comments
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I’m taking a big risk by publishing this photo. You see, my friend Vickie in Montana is as much of a dishaholic as me and as soon as she lays eyes on this little bowl with that adorable kitten peering over the side she’s going to flat-out sneak into my home and steal it. Well Vickie, be warned, we have a complex security system and two yappy little dogs that can bloody your ankles in a heartbeat. OK good…now that we’ve got that out of the way.

I’ll never purchase commercial smoked salmon spread again…ever. In the past, whenever I was feeling wealthy, I’d pick up a small tub of  Whole Foods Smoked Salmon Spread. Always a treat and an indulgence. But thanks to Larry over at Big Dude’s Eclectic Ramblings, I can have my cake and eat it too with this delicious home-made salmon spread.  It yielded twice the amount for less than half the cost. 

I served this at our Super Bowl Party and upon first bite my friend Cauleen exclaimed, “This is delicious…is it Ina’s recipe?”  I simply replied, “Actually no, it’s Larry’s“.  In a blink of an eye, and no questions asked, Larry became one of those famous chef’s that are referred to on first name basis.  Well, at least famous in our house…and on that day…and for probably 8 seconds.  Let’s take a look.

With softened cream cheese, this comes together in a jif. And everyone who tried it at our party, took the time to comment on how good it was. Although Larry smoked his own salmon for this recipe, I just picked up a package of smoked salmon at the grocery store. Can you imagine how good it would be if you took the time to smoke your own?

Larry’s Smoked Salmon Spread:

8 oz smoked salmon
8 oz softened cream cheese
8 oz sour cream
2 tbsp finely diced onion
1 tsp lemon pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
4 tbsp roughly chopped capers, drained but unrinsed
1 1/2 – 2 tsp dried dill weed

Mix all together, let set over night and adjust for flavor 

I didn’t adjust much at all. Thanks to Larry for this great recipe.

Larry’s Home-made Smoked Salmon Spread…It’s What’s For A Party!

Feeding A Crowd: Paris Hotel, Mon Ami Gabi Restaurant Cheese And Marinara Appetizer…and a Winner

January 18, 2011 at 12:11 pm | Posted in Appetizers | 32 Comments
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First the recipe. I got this from a coworker, Beth, who dined at the bistro-style restaurant, Mon Ami Gabi, at the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas. She ordered this appetizer off the menu, loved it so much that she begged, pleaded and threatened the server until he gave up the recipe. And speaking of Beth and before we get to this recipe, Beth Avedis is also an extremely talented singer and artist.  Take a look at her website http://www.bethavedis.com/biography.html

I’ve served this twice now. Once on New Year’s Day over at Greg and Cauleen’s house, and the other night for our monthly gathering which we’ve named Wine Time. Both offerings turned out to be wildly popular.  This photo was taken before it was baked and staged with a couple of Carr Water Crackers. I transported this dish to Cauleen’s and baked it there, then served with crackers lining the rim of the pasta bowl.

This photo is from the second time I prepared it. It’s been baked and as you can see, I’ve added a few sprinkles of crushed red pepper and served it with sliced french bread. I don’t know what kind of crackers the restaurant used, but I have to admit, I liked the offering of French bread better than the water crackers.

Beth’s Mon Ami Gabi Cheese and Marinara Appetizer

  • 1 package herbed Boursin Cheese
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 4 ounces peppered goat cheese
  • Marinara sauce

Let the cheeses come to room temperature. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl, mix all cheeses together and form into a ball. Slather the marinara sauce in an ovenproof shallow pasta bowl. Place the ball of cheese in the middle. Bake until bubbly.  About twenty minutes.  Serve hot with crackers or bread.

AND THE WINNER of my Sticky Brand Sauce give away is Chris over at Nibble Me This

“Well you just KNOW my choice would be the Ghost Pepper BBQ sauce, right? I can imagine how scorching hot that is, I remember watching Adam Richman sweating bullets after eating something with Jolokia Bhuta in it.”

Congratulations Chris and I’ll get those sauces into your sticky hands as soon as I have your mailing address.  Thanks to all who participated.

Beth’s Cheese And Marinara Appetizer…It’s What’s For Superbowl.

Holy Jolokia! This Is a Great Shrimp Appetizer Recipe…..And a Give-Away

January 7, 2011 at 7:37 am | Posted in Appetizers, Seafood | 42 Comments
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No…no…no…Hub’s camera, I said I wanted the background blurred, not the foreground. I swear, these cameras have a mind of their own!

This is a delicious appetizer, a riff on a Buffalo Chicken Wing recipe. It comes together in a snap and I could have eaten about two dozen.

The shrimp are breaded in a cayenne and  flour breading, sautéed in a Buffalo-style butter and hot wing sauce combo, then stand tall in blue cheese dressing. Served alongside a battalion of cool crunchy celery… this dish equals a delicious bite after bite of hot..crunch..cool..blue cheesy delight. But first let’s talk about the Hot Wing Sauce I used in this recipe. A sauce that’s made from the Hottest Pepper In The World!

Sticky Brand Sauces is a local Colorado company that makes some very tasty Chicken Wing and BBQ Sauces.  And I mean TASTY. Curiosity got the best of me when, at a product demonstration at Tony’s Market, a company representative told me about their highly flavorful hot wing sauce made from the mysterious Jolokia pepper (also called the Ghost Pepper). From India, he added, “It’s the hottest pepper in the world”.

Of course I bought some. How could I resist the triple-dog-dare nuance. It’s interesting to taste this sauce straight from the bottle. When it first hit my tongue I went into survival mode. With watering eyes, short of breath and the kitchen sink in sight, I ran for the phone in case I needed to call 911,  but almost immediately, and to my pleasant surprise, the heat faded into a warm peppery tingle. A pleasant flavorful pepper flavor followed. I wanted to do it all over again. Like a fine wine, it had a long long finish…in a barbed-wire sort of way.

Am I glad I bought it? Yes! And going forward I knew I would use this sauce with delightful caution and would no longer be afraid of well-crafted hot pepper sauces.

So here’s the fun part. Rob over at Sticky Brand Sauces has agreed to give one lucky winner a bottle of this very special Ghost Pepper Sauce along with a bottle of the sauce of your choice. Simple rules. Just head over to the Sticky Brand Sauce website and take a look around. Choose  one other sauce besides the Jolokia Sauce that you’d like to receive.  Leave that selection in the comment section of my blog.  That’s right the winner will get two bottles…a bottle of  Holy Jolokia and the bottle of your choice.  Sticky Brand Sauces.  So head on over and Pick Your Sticky.

Winner will be selected randomly and deadline for this contest is January 16

Easy Enough?  Fair enough?  Any questions?  Thanks Rob over at Sticky Brand Sauces.  Now let’s take a look at this great recipe.

Holy Jolokia Buffalo Shrimp (adapted from Food.com)

  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 4 ounces Maytag blue cheese (about 1 cup crumbled)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 dozen large shrimp shelled and deveined
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1-2 teaspoons Sticky Brand Sauce Holy Jolokia Wing Sauce (or your favorite wing sauce) 

In a bowl, combine first six ingredients to make blue cheese dip. Cover and refrigerate. 

In a shallow bowl, combine flour salt and cayenne pepper. Pat shrimp dry and toss in the flour mixture, coating well. In a large skillet heat oil, butter and 1 – 2 teaspoons hot sauce. Amount depends on how much heat and flavor you want. Add shrimp and cook about 4-5 minutes per side, until nicely browned. Pour a little of the sauce over the shrimp while browning.

Place dollops of the blue cheese dressing on a platter. Stand a piece of shrimp in each dollop and serve with celery sticks.

Adding a little bit at a time and tasting as I went, I used probably just over one teaspoon of this very hot sauce and it seemed to deliver the perfect flavor and heat. Showy and delicious with great flavors, I will make this appetizer over and over. 

Holy Jolokia! Buffalo Shrimp…It’s What’s for a Delicious Appetizer.

Smoky Pimento Cheese Spread

October 15, 2010 at 4:37 pm | Posted in Appetizers | 28 Comments
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Looking for a great little cracker and dip idea to impress your football watching guests this weekend?  Take a look at this one.

I think I tried bottled Pimento Cheese Spread once and promptly filed it in the “didn’t like” section of my mental food file. When Larry over at Big Dude’s Eclectic Ramblings posted his wife Bev’s Homemade Pimento Cheese Spread, it looked so good that I knew I had to give it 2nd chance. His sentiments to my comment was “warning, you’ll never buy store-bought again”.   Sold!

With its hearty flavor and served with crackers, this would be a great addition to any tailgating party, or with its slight heat, a nice warm-up appetizer to a chili dinner with friends. This even works nice as a spread to compliment a good sandwich. Let’s take a look.

Bev’s recipe was more about directions that an exact accounting of ingredients, so here’s what I did with ingredients I had on hand.

Bev’s Home Made Smoky Pimento Cheese Spread

1 C. shredded White Tillamook Cheddar
1 C. shredded Sharp Yellow Tillamook Cheddar

2 roasted Italian Bullhorn red peppers (wonderful flavor) peeled and chopped
1 roasted pimento, peeled and chopped (or one small jar – drained)

I’m not sure how much mayo,  just kept adding a little at a time until I had a good consistency – maybe 1/2 cup?

2 – 3 Chipotle peppers in adobo, chopped – I deveined and seeded these so it wouldn’t be too hot

A shake of salt and pepper. Bev didn’t say to, but I added a few shakes of dried onion.

Delicious Bev! I love the smoky flavor the chipotle peppers add not to mention the sweet earthy flavor that the roasted pimentos and bullhorns bring to the party.  I took it to an afternoon barbecue and I think it lasted all of ten minutes…and we’re even were a polite bunch!

Bev’s Smoky Pimento Cheese Spread,

It’s What’s for a Party.

Crab Cake Croquettes and Creamed Corn Appetizer

September 11, 2010 at 2:15 pm | Posted in Appetizers, Seafood, Vegetables | 26 Comments
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Next time I have a dinner party I’ll most certainly be serving up this great little appetizer idea.  Mini crab cakes floating on top of some sinfully delicious creamed corn. 

First of all, a couple of weeks ago, I wrote about Tony’s Flat chickens.  Several of you asked about the terminology and what made them “flat”.  Thanks to Chef Mick for responding with this explanation. “I didn’t give Lea Ann all the details, here goes…the chicken is properly butterflied – the backbone and sternum ‘keel bone’ are removed, leaving the two halves attached at the breast and allowing it to lay flat (aka spatchcocked) but we take it further, we also remove the breast and thigh bones for even quicker cooking and ease of eating. The bird is then packaged in a variety of marinades. It’s ideal for grilling or roasting in quick order. A lot of folks sear first to brown and slow down the cooking – this assures browning but makes burning less likely. I hope this gets all the questions…thanks for supporting local shop owners and cheers!”

On to the crab cakes and creamed corn. What you see pictured above is a larger variation of the mini crab cakes that Chef Mick Rosacci turned out in the video below.  He takes one full-sized crab cake, cuts it in into 6 pieces, forms them into croquettes, fries them and places them in little bowls nestled on the creamed corn.  Add a sprinkle of fresh diced tomato and green onion and it’s divine.  I had taken two bites of out of my dish and realized I had forgotten that part…so no photo with the color.  :-/

I let Tony’s do the work and bought pre-made crab cakes from their seafood counter.  I used a super sweet variety of Colorado grown corn from the Farmer’s Market for the corn recipe. It was out of this world. And with a  little kick from the cayenne…great recipe. Take a look:

Crab Croquettes and Creamed Corn

8 large ears Colorado Sweet Corn
1 cup half and half – separated
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup heavy cream
1/8 tsp cayenne
white pepper and sea salt to taste

2-3 Tony’s prepared Crab Cakes – or crab cake recipe follows
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
butter, olive oil or a combination – for sautéing

Garnish: 1/2 bunch green onions, minced; one tomato, peeled, seeded and chopped

Creamed Corn:
Cut kernels from corn. Using the back of a knife, scrape the cob to extract the milk and add to the corn. Divide corn into two batches. Puree two cups of the corn with 1/2 cup half and half. Melt butter in a saute pan, add pureed corn, remaining corn kernels, cream, remaining half and half, cayenne, and salt to taste. Simmer until thickened.

Crab Croquettes:
Reshape Tony’s Crab Cakes into 6-8 small croquettes or patties and roll in panko crumbs – or make crab cake recipe and shape into small croquettes, rolling in panko breadcrumbs. Saute in a heavy skillet with butter, olive oil or a combination – cooking until nicely browned on each side.

Assembly:
Separate creamed corn into 6-8 attractive bowls, topping each with a browned Crab Croquette. Garnish with chopped green onion and tomatoes.
Serve with a brisk, fruity to off-dry white wine. Also delicious with seared scallops, salmon, or halibut. – Chef Mick (Michaelangelo) Rosacci, http://www.TonysMarket.comhttp://www.TonyRosacciCatering.com

Crab Cake Recipe
2 slices dried bread, crusts removed
2 TBS milk
1 TBS mayonnaise
1 TBS Worcestershire sauce
1 TBS Parsley Flakes
1 TBS baking powder
1 tsp Old Bay brand seasoning
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg, beaten
1 pound fresh lump crab meat

Break bread into small pieces and moisten with milk. Add remaining ingredients and combine well.

Tony’s Crab Cakes And Homemade Creamed Corn

It’s What’s For Dinner (and my next dinner party appetizer)

I Call It Peacho de Gallo

September 2, 2009 at 11:23 pm | Posted in Salsa | 12 Comments
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Look at those picture perfect beautiful Colorado peaches.

Look at those picture-perfect beautiful Colorado peaches.

I bought a case of Colorado West Slope Peaches and have been trying like heck to get them used up.  Cooked… sliced…grilled…I’ve frozen a couple of bags and yipee, this recipe used one more whole peach!  17 down, 13 to go.

I call it Peacho de Gallo.  This really ended up being delicious.  I grilled pork chops last night and served them topped with a spoonful of my new creation; Peacho de Gallo.  I think I’m so clever, let’s all say it together, one more time…Peacho de Gallo

5 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 peach, peeled and diced
1/2 sweet onion, diced
1 lime, juiced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 Serrano chile, seeded and minced
2 Tbsp minced roasted Hatch Chiles
2 chipotle chiles in adobo, seeded and minced
1 1/2 tsp adobo sauce (from the can of chipotles in adobo)
1 garlic clove, minced

Add 1 tsp sugar and 1/2 tsp salt.

In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients. Stir well to combine. I used fresh tomatoes from my garden, when chopped they produce quite abit of juice.  I did drain that off before mixing in with the rest of the ingredients.   I think this will keep in the refrigerator for at least a week?  Everyone agree?  I think next time I’ll juice 1/2 lime and zest the other half.  I ended up adding the sugar because I thought it was a little too lime-ie.  Note: 

Whole Foods is the only place I can find that are roasting Hatch Chiles.  Our Farmer’s Markets have Colorado grown and roasted chiles.  Those are very good too, I just love the Hatch.  Special flavor.  If you want to learn more about Hatch Chiles, click here.

Peacho de Gallo in extremely cute bowl

Peacho de Gallo in extremely cute bowl

This is also very good with Tortilla Chips.  And cute bowl alert – my friend Cauleen gave me the bowl for Christmas two years ago.  LOVE it.

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